Morning Report: How to Open Schools and Other Stuff | Voice of San Diego

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Morning Report: How to Open Schools and Other Stuff

Students at Magnolia Elementary stand at arm’s length waiting to wash their hands after their recess break. Magnolia is one of several schools in the Cajon Valley Union School District to offer child care for families during the coronavirus pandemic. / Photo by Adriana Heldiz

Whether you’re demanding schools reopen immediately, or support proceeding on in-person classes with supreme caution, everyone seems to agree on this: Distance learning isn’t going well.

As part of its effort to eventually reopen, San Diego Unified leaders enlisted help from a group of UC San Diego scientists. Now, it turns out, those scientists are giving not just local school officials but people across the world some new lessons about how the virus works and the best ways to blunt its spread.

In a new story, VOSD’s Scott Lewis lays out the latest about what we know and how it applies to schools.

There’s a quiet revolution happening among scientists, led in part by people in San Diego, who are concluding that the virus spreads primarily in the air,” Lewis writes.

That’s why it’s crucial that any activity that can take place outdoors should take place outdoors.

If the outdoors truly isn’t an option, ventilation and masks are crucial.

So what about the plexiglass, like the divider Sen. Kamala Harris insisted on at this week’s debate?

Plexiglass doesn’t stop the spread of aerosols, and in some cases it might even pool them, making conditions less safe.

“If Harris and debate organizers were really concerned about safety, they would not put in plexiglass. They would move the debate outside, wear masks or cancel it,” Lewis writes.

Speaking of distance learning not going well … In his latest education column, VOSD’s Will Huntsberry lays out the particular challenges distance learning has provoked for English-learners.

It’s very important, for instance, for English-learners to be able to see a teacher’s mouth move when they are talking, Gloria Corral, president of Parent Institute for Quality Education, pointed out. 

“It’s also important for teachers to model – a practice in which a teacher teaches a concept through a real world example – for English-learners to gain language skills. Small group language practice is also important. Both of these are more difficult in online teaching,” Huntsberry writes.

Gómez Didn’t Disclose Income

Last month, City Council President Georgette Gómez, who’s running for Congress, released several years’ worth of tax returns in an effort to goad her opponent, Sara Jacobs, into doing the same.

“Voters deserve to know whether or not candidates running to represent them are paying their fair share or gaming the system,” Gómez’s campaign manager wrote in one of multiple press releases about the returns.

But the U-T on Thursday reports that Gómez might be the one gaming the system: She didn’t disclose any salary on a 2017 filing despite making at least $90,000 in her Council job.

“The discrepancy is one of several errors or omissions noted by The San Diego Union-Tribune during a review of the councilwoman’s tax filings for 2017, 2018 and 2019 compared to other publicly available information,” the paper wrote. Gómez told the paper the errors were the fault of her tax preparer and that she plans to file amended paperwork.

Gómez’s former staffer, Kelvin Barrios, who’s running to replace her in the District 9 seat, has been beset with his own financial disclosure issues, and recently announced he was suspending his campaign. When pressed, though, Barrios said he might still accept the job if voters elect him.

Something to Look Forward to: More Vacation Rental Debate

You’re not gonna believe this one. A decision on vacation rental regulations is being kicked down the road.

The City Council is unlikely to take up a proposed regulatory compromise on vacation rentals brokered by City Councilwoman Jennifer Campbell until next year.

After a Thursday presentation on the proposal, the city’s planning commission directed city staffers to pull together more details on some pieces of the draft ordinance written after a formal agreement between Campbell, hotel workers’ union Unite Here Local 30 and Expedia Group, the parent company of vacation rental platforms HomeAway and VRBO. The compromise includes a proposed licensing system to track and manage vacation rentals, a limit on the volume of whole-home vacation rentals the city can license and policies to address long-running quality of life issues such as noise and parking.

Planning commissioners are now set in early December to get more specifics on components of Campbell’s proposal, including plans for a lottery system and the basis for the cap she proposed on the number of rentals in the city. Multiple planning commissioners said Thursday they’d like city staff to have a chance to iron out more details given the years of concerns and questions about how to best regulate vacation rentals.

Campbell’s office had hoped to get a City Council vote before the November election.

In Other News

  • We’re hosting a virtual town hall today with mayoral candidates Todd Gloria and Barbara Bry to address the future of Balboa Park. The conversation will be moderated by Scott Lewis at 5 p.m. on Facebook and YouTube. Register here for free and bring your questions.
  • The Union-Tribune broke the news that the city has agreed to a court settlement that ensures it won’t make additional 101 Ash St. lease payments until city workers can safely move into the controversy-plagued building. The city stopped paying rent last month.
  • Prop. 15 is a statewide ballot initiative that would hike property taxes on big businesses and raise up to $12 million a year for schools and local government. In a new op-ed, Supervisor Nathan Fletcher argues that, if passed, the county could prioritize investments in our local health care system and be better prepared to respond to the current public health crisis and future emergencies. (Want more information? Click here to watch our crash course on California’s ballot measures)
  • A proposal to buy two hotels to house up to 400 homeless people was unanimously approved by a City Council committee this week. The units are expected to open by the end of the year and will house people currently at the San Diego Convention Center, reports the Union-Tribune.

The Morning Report was written by Megan Wood and Lisa Halverstadt, and edited by Sara Libby.

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